There’s a certain irony about opening day of the Major League Baseball season, especially when it’s staged 15,000km away from the United States of America.
The Sydney Cricket Ground looks a million bucks, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are worth $US350 million ($A387.96 million), and the excitement is palpable.
But beneath the glitz, glamour and sense of occasion, there’s the reality that Saturday night at the SCG is day one of 162 matches for both teams this season.
“It’s a grind,” admits Dodgers star reliever, Brian Wilson.
“It’s monotonous, tedious. You go through 162 games so you can win the 11 games in the post-season and chase victory at the end.”
For baseball-poor Sydney-siders, this weekend’s two-match season-opening series is a speed course on America’s favourite pastime – with metre-long hot dogs and Adam Goodes throwing the ceremonial first-pitch among the highlights.
But for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers it’s the first steps of a marathon.
Which is why from the Dodgers’ standpoint as championship contenders, they’re not exactly thrilled to have been made to take a 30-hour round trip to be here.
It’s the sixth time the MLB has staged a game outside of the United States, and the first time in a developing market.
But organisers haven’t brought any old-match up across the Pacific.
The Diamondbacks and Dodgers rivalry is genuine.
Last year there were two flashpoint moments between the two sides.
The first, a bench-clearing all-in-brawl which resulted in eight suspensions and 12 fines.
The second, an unsavoury incident where Dodgers players celebrating their Division victory, leaped into the pool at the Diamondbacks ballpark and relieved themselves in the water while they were at it.
Then there’s the simple matter of pay packets.
Los Angeles have the biggest payroll in the MLB at $US245 million ($A271.57 million), and are led by the game’s highest-paid player – superstar pitcher Clayton Kershaw – worth over $US30 million ($A33.25 million) a season.
Arizona are more the team of the people – with their comparatively low payroll of $US110 million ($A121.93 million).
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly accepts that LA are the bad guys – and they won’t be backing down.
“We’re repulsive? Wow,” Mattingly said.
“I don’t know if anybody here is too worried about that.
“I guess when you get a lot of big names, a big payroll, you end up being the bad guy no matter what.
“People like to see the underdog do better than the spoiled guys.”
Mattingly says his side hate the Diamondbacks for no other reason than they’ll get tired of seeing them after upwards of 20 match-ups this season.
However, according to Diamondbacks pitcher JJ Putz, the bad blood runs deeper and he’s not ruling out another on-field incident on foreign soil.
“Anything is a possibility,” he said.
“We’ll just see how the game goes and if anything happens you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Pitching controls baseball, and for opening night, having a player of Clayton Kershaw’s ability on the mound gives the Dodgers the edge.
But the MLB is a marathon not a sprint.